- Michael Peluso, 31, said a colonoscopy would have saved mother’s life
- Ms Bellingham died of colon cancer following 18-month battle in October
- Routine checks and screening failed to detect 66-year-old’s condition
- In a final interview, Ms Bellingham urged over 60s to have colonoscopies
Lynda Bellingham’s son has claimed a simple test may have detected his mother’s fatal colon cancer in time to save her life.
Speaking for the first time since the actress’s death last month, Michael Peluso said he believed a colonoscopy should have been carried out as it would have given her longer to live.
The 31-year-old added routine screening tests had failed to pick up his mother’s illness for 18 months, leaving it too late for her to recover once diagnosed.
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Lynda Bellingham’s son Michael Peluso believes a simple colonoscopy would have saved his mother’s life
In her final interview on ITV’s Loose Women, the 66-year-old urged over 60s to undergo the procedure as her disease had gone undetected for months
‘She was a massive champion for getting a colonoscopy… it would have saved her life,’ Mr Peluso told the Daily Mirror.
‘They missed it so much. She was carrying cancer for 18 months before she discovered she had it.’
Ms Bellingham’s health deteriorated drastically within weeks of bravely revealing she had chosen to stop treatment to enjoy a final Christmas with her sons and husband.
Chronicling her battle with the disease in her book, There’s Something I’ve Been Dying To Tell You, the 66-year-old even told of how she’d chosen the day she would die.
The beloved actress, best known for her role as the Oxo mum and as a host on Loose Women, died on October 19, days after describing her battle with colon cancer on the ITV talk show.
Ms Bellingham chronicled her battle with the disease in a book. Since her death, husband Michael Pattemore (right) thanked fans and well-wishers for buying There’s Something I’ve Been Dying To Tell You
Mr Peluso, pictured at his mother’s funeral with brother Robbie (right) and Mr Pattemore (left), previously thanked the public for their ‘overwhelming’ support
Mr Peluso acted opposite his mother in the film Too Close For Comfort 2 in the months before her death. In a poignant scene, Ms Bellingham tells him she has been diagnosed with cancer
COLON CANCER: THE FACTS
Colon cancer is also referred to as bowel cancer or rectal cancer.
In countries such as the UK and U.S., more than 80 per cent of cases occur in people aged 60 or over, such as Lynda.
People who are older, who eat a diet low in fibre and high in fat, those who are overweight and those who take little exercise are most at risk.
Smoking, alcohol and a family history of the disease also increase the risk.
The cancer can present itself in a number of ways, explains Dr Stuart Riley, a consultant gastroenterologist, and clinical director of the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme in South Yorkshire.
‘The usual symptoms are rectal bleeding, a change in bowel habits – usually looser stools, though it could also cause constipation or needing to go to the toilet more frequently – abdominal discomfort and anaemia.’
He says if any bleeding is accompanied by a change in bowel habits, or if any other signs persist for several months, then a ‘full clinical assessment’ should be carried out.
This includes a colonoscopy – where a tiny camera is inserted into the colon. It’s also important to establish if a patient has a family history of bowel cancer as this can increase the risk.
In the UK routine screening tests are offered to over 60s by the NHS. Those eligible are sent home stool testing kits designed to detect the disease.
If stool tests return an abnormal result, the patient is invited to undergo a colonoscopy.
This is the case for only two in every 100 patients, according to the NHS.
In a final interview, the 66-year-old urged people her age to undergo colonoscopies routinely and have regular stool tests.
‘The minute you’re diagnosed it’s too late. I knew I was stage four 15 months ago, so it was quite hard when people said, “Oh, your chemo will be finished soon. Don’t worry,”‘ she said.
‘I always had a stool test and had always gone for a check up but this [cancer] hides.
Advising viewers of how best to detect the disease, she said: ‘I would say get checked up, but the biggest thing… if you put a pound away for a colonoscopy when you get to 60, they actually do say that’s probably the only way of knowing for sure that you have got bowel cancer.’
Mr Peluso, Ms Bellingham’s son from her second marriage to Nunzo Peluso, has not spoken out formally since his mother’s death in October.
Last week emotional footage of the pair emerged, with Ms Bellingham playing her son’s on-screen mother in the film Too Close For Comfort 2.
In one poignant scene, the 66-year-old tells her son she has been diagnosed with cancer.
In the days after his mother’s death Mr Peluso took to social media to express his grief and thank the public for their ‘overwhelming’ outpouring of support.
‘Oh mama miss u so much’, he posted on Twitter, before thanking well-wishers for their messages.
‘Thank you everyone! Your love and compassion is overwhelming,’ he wrote.
Since Ms Bellingham’s death thousands of pounds has been raised for Action Against Cancer in her memory.
Speaking of the public’s love for his late wife in the first interview since her death, Michael Pattemore said he was glad she had the chance to experience fans’ adoration.
‘She was amazed by the public response, completely overwhelmed, and we were flooded with letters, cards and flowers. Until then, she had no idea how loved she was,’ he told the Mail.
‘David Pugh told her: “Lynda, you are lucky. Most people never get to know how much they are loved, but you’ve had a taste of it before you die.”